Hospitals should stop routinely inducing births after a pregnancy has reached 42 weeks, according to Linda Cardozo, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at King's College Hospital.
"A fixed cut off point seems unnecessarily prescriptive. Each case needs to be considered individually and timing of delivery should be based on a woman's risk factors," she says.
The woman and her partner should always be involved in any decision to induce or not.
There is no "right time" to induce, "nor any conclusive data on which to base a rational decision", she says. What there is lots of evidence for, she says, are the dangers of induced births. "Induced labour is longer and is associated with more instrumental deliveries, an increased risk of postpartum haemorrhage, and perhaps most importantly, a higher incidence of low Apgar scores [poorer general health of the baby] at birth than spontaneous labour. If the point of inducing labour is to reduce risks to the [baby] than it may be failing."